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21 Apr 2016 16:00

Check out Beiteddine Art Festival 2016 lineup!


Beiteddine Art Festival founder Nora Jumblatt announced the event’s 2016 lineup Wednesday, accompanied by Tourism Minister Michel Pharaon, the ministry’s director-general Nada Sardouk and Culture Minister Raymond Areiji. “At a time when the region is engulfed in flames, with sparks coming from every direction, we meet today to kick off the new festival season from Beiteddine,” Jumblatt said, “a happy event, with messages of hope and life, reaffirming the [collective] will to stand united against the killing, bloodshed and oppression. ... The basis of [the festival] is the freedom and expression, the importance of humanity [and] a preference to focus on [cultural] heritage to remind us all of our responsibilities and duties to preserve them and ensure they are passed on to coming generations. ... This festival is based on [many] cultures and traditions. The only politics is to bring people together through music and art and culture.”

“It is with great pleasure that we will be returning and opening a new page with this year’s festivals in Lebanon,” added Pharaon, “starting with Beiteddine Festival, which has provided so much to national pride, culture and art. We are in need of these things [particularly] today, given the demoralizing political climate.”

The festival opens July 8 with the first of two performances of “Merchants of Bollywood.” Based on the history of Bollywood, Tony Gough’s musical has won worldwide acclaim.

British pop sensation Seal will have his Beiteddine debut on July 14. Internationally renowned for his fusion of funk, pop and soul, he rose to fame with his 1991 hit “Killer.”

On July 19-20 the festival will host choreographer Angelin Preljocaj’s interpretation of Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet.” With costuming by Enki Bilal, Preljocaj imagines a contemporary setting for Shakespeare’s story of star-crossed lovers.

As its title suggests, Beiteddine is an art festival and the performances are yearly accompanied by on-site exhibitions. This year the festival is collaborating with the French Cultural Center to host a number of cultural heritage exhibitions – “Syria and the Ruins of Catastrophe in the Middle East” and “Palmyra the Martyred City.”

In a parallel program to the main festival, Beirut theater troupe Collectif Kahraba will relocate to the nearby village of Deir al-Qamar for performances of “We and Deir al-Qamar are Neighbors” (“Nahna w Deir al-Qamar Jiran”), a Chouf iteration of the group’s wildly successful outdoor intervention Beirut’s Mar Mikhael quarter last year. The title is derived from the famous Fairouz tune, “We and the Moon are Neighbors” (“Nahna wil-Qamar Jiran”).

As usual, Beiteddine will also host a number of crowd-pleasing local and regional acts. “Ya Mal al-Sham,” a musical salute to “the peoples of the ‘Arab Spring,’” led by oud maestros Naseer Shamma and Charbel Rouhana and Syrian-Armenian vocalist Lena Chamamyan, is expected to interpret a program of traditional folk songs on July 23.

A few evenings later, on July 29, a group of performers led by pianist Guy Manokian will present “Ya Ashikata al-Wardi,” a performance in honor of composer Zaki Nassif.

Popular Egyptian surgeon-turned-stand-up-comedian and erstwhile talk show host Bassem Youssef, who catapulted to international celebrity with this John Stewart-esque “El Bernameg,” promises to bring his topical humor to the Chouf on Aug. 3.

Long a festival favorite Iraqi-born crooner Kadim Al Sahir returns for a pair of shows on Aug. 5-6. A popular judge on MBC’s “The Voice Kids,” Sahir’s concerts promise to be a festival highlight.

Beiteddine 2016 will close with a pair of concerts by Buika and Carminho. Buika is best known for her fusion of Afro-Cuban and jazz-infused interpretation of flamenco dance. Carminho has found global renown as one of the most talented proponents of contemporary fado.


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